The Durham Big Meeting

20 Jul

by Kate Osamor

Unite's banner at the Gala

Unite has produced a political strategy which outlines “our” view on how to ensure working class people can take up political positions within the labour party. Recent article/blogs have made claim that the strategy is a move for Unite the union to take over the Labour party. This is untrue and very misleading.

For years trade unions have backed the Labour leadership and supported the appointment of Labour MP’s, Sadly with little recognition. The policy involves Unite fighting for more for trade union-backed MPs, a restoration of democracy and for policies which would commit the Labour Party to improving employment rights and opposing all cuts.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to the Unite Political school, held at Durham University, to work on understanding the political strategy and how best to implement it. For 3 long days we discussed why politics matters, how to win Labour for working people and how best to win working people for Labour

We worked in small break away groups looking at identifying any barriers to success and how to overcome them, as well as pledging group/individual plans on how to apply the strategy in our workplaces and union branches.

The school coincided with The Durham Miners’ Gala, known locally as “The Big Meeting”, which is the annual celebration of the Durham coalfield’s heritage and trade unionism. First held in 1871, with unions marching into the city, the Gala has developed into an elaborate socialist iconography, where ‘working class’ people march together with banners and brass bands. As part of a Unite delegation, we marched through the streets of Durham on to the old racecourse, to hear political speeches from Ed Miliband (the first Labour MP to attend the Gala in over 20 years) and Tom Watson MP amongst other great comrades.

I was part of history and feel very proud to have attended both the political school and the Durham Miners Gala.

 

Kate Osamor is an activist in Unite the Union and the Labour Party

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